Over at Ahssa!, you can read a sample of the kind of story that every expat hears at least once while living abroad: the strange romance gossip story.
These kinds of stories are inescapable, really. Everyone has at least heard at least one, and most of us have firsthand experience something as weird as this.
I’m no exception.
My own strange romance gossip story was actually from the life of an ex-girlfriend who I found out had been in a “secret” relationship with the weirdest foreigner in town prior to her involvement with me. Even weirder was how he tried to befriend me after she and I split up, all the while very subtly and cleverly digging for information about our short-lived and ill-fated relationship. He told me a very weird story in which he’d managed to get his high school girlfriend pregnant and then dumped her. Then he told me about the guy who married her, and how this guy had become a wonderful father to the little girl, and how they were all extremely obese and angelically happy-looking in all the photos he’d seen since going abroad. He regaled me with stories of wealthy Russian women having short-lived affairs with him and then setting him up semi-permanently in wonderful housing with Russian lessons and all. It was so weird, but he was also masterful with leading questions.
Someone by chance discovered that the girl I’d dated also had a history with this nut, and that he was still obsessed with her, and that friend promptly told me. I realized that this was why he was suddenly trying to be so friendly, and after that I had nothing to do with him at all. Frankly, he kind of scared me… his obsessiveness seemed by all reports so insane that I feared he saw me as a rival to be “eliminated.” Maybe it’s wimpy of me, but I don’t like for people who are crazy to see me as their rivals.
Later, I would hear through friends scattered reports that he was stalking her, dating other girls in their mutual workplace in order to try make her jealous, and planning to get engaged to her on some date he’d set in his mind. The man was stark, raving mad, and the funniest thing was, when I talked to her about it, just to let her know she ought to be careful, not only had she no idea of any of this, but she didn’t believe me about his strange and wacko plans. Apparently he had a reputation among foreigners for being just damned weird, and I soon noticed it too, but she had no idea about that. She frankly couldn’t see it at all, poor thing.
And if that’s not odd enough, I’ve heard of even stranger stories.
One guy I worked with once lost his job because he convinced his ex-girlfriend that he was sleeping with a professor whom was studying with another teacher in our workplace. The girlfriend trashed his apartment, got locked out, wormed her way back in again by getting the security guard to open the door for her it seems he didn’t even bother to check if she was a resident or not, he just got a locksmith to open the doorand she finally called the professor, who, the story went, showed up at the apartment horrified that he’d been telling stories about their (real or imagined) sexual escapade. The woman was married, and whether or not it was true what he claimed happenedwho knows? They had often been seen chatting, which was weird enough given she was a beautiful, highly educated woman and he spoke and dressed, as one friend put it, “like a longshoreman”she had a lot to lose if the story got around… and stories always get around.
The girlfriend called our boss, claiming that he’d been teaching the kids about drugs, and mentioned specific drugs in particularwhich immediately became a hole in her story, since it was obvious no kid would remember the kinds of details she was claiming her own kid had remembered. She’d refused to give a name or number, as well, which cast doubt on her story. Still, the boss was horrified, and while a teacher was able to step in and explain what was going on, and thereby prevent immediate firing, the guy did not get offered another contract.
And to this day, none of us knows whether he did or did not actually sleep with the professor, as he claimed he had.
This brings me to the saddest story yet. A guy once told me he dumped his girlfriend of however many months because she had a debt. It was a big debt, a crippling one perhaps, and the fault of a family member and not her own fault. He was disappointed that she was not free to travel as he was, and so he dumped her. I can’t criticize him for it, but it does seem to me rather sad. What is the basis of that kind of relationship? Seems to me like a very telling sign, but whatever. It’s not my place to judge, as much as to hear these stories and just shake my head.
Oh, the folly of so many expatriate lives…
UPDATE: The Bass Hole had a good one, too; he claims it’s a true story but then they all do… though I don’t think this one is set in Korea.